WSJ on Rent Seeking to Save the Planet

Today’s weekend Wall Street Journal‘s lead editorial (available free online at addresses the Climate Action Partnership, reitarating some of CEI’s arguments against this corporate rent-seeking exercise:

“Senator Barbara Boxer touts all the jobs that would be created for people trying to game the system — er, save the planet. ‘And her colleague Jeff Bingaman calls cap-and-trade ‘market based,’ because, you know, people would trade stuff.

“But for that to happen, the government would first have to put a cap on CO2 emissions, either for certain industries or even the economy as a whole. At the same time, it would allocate quotas for CO2 emissions, either based on current emissions, or on energy output, or some other standard. If a company then ‘over-complied,’ which means it produced less carbon dioxide than it was allowed to under the rules, it could sell the excess allowance to someone else….

“The difficulties don’t lie with the trading, but with the cap, which is where the companies lobbying for restrictions come in. James Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy, put it plainly earlier this year: ‘If you’re not at the table when these negotiations are going on, you’re going to be on the menu.’ Translation: If a cap is coming, better to design it in a way that you profit from it, instead of being killed by it….

“What Duke, Entergy, TXU, BP, Dupont and all the rest want is to make sure that when the right to produce CO2 becomes limited, they’re the ones that end up owning the allowances. Because that would mean they could sell them, and make money off something that previously wasn’t worth a dime.”

CEI President Fred Smith made a similar argument in his February 13 testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Boxer.